Healthy teeth are at the core of a fantastic smile, but unusually discolored areas of enamel can prevent a beautiful smile from truly shining through. Although there are numerous causes, white blotches on your teeth can make you self-conscious when opening your mouth. It's worth learning how to get rid of white spots on teeth and to choose a remedy that's best for you.
There are many reasons for the appearance of white spots on your teeth. When there's a disruption to the tooth-development process, white spots can set in on the surface, but not a shade of white that blends in with the rest of your teeth. Bacterial acids can cause white spots as they begin to dissolve tooth enamel and lead to decay, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Here are more possible causes of these white blemishes:
Possible Reasons for White Spots on Teeth
Fluorosis happens when large amounts of fluoride are ingested when teeth are still forming. This usually has a combination of sources: excessive fluoridated water, certain supplements and swallowing fluoride toothpaste, for example. Although fluoride helps make teeth more resistant to decay, too much is just as hazardous, causing enamel discoloration that can appear chalky white, yellow or even brown.
Enamel hypoplasia results from nutritional deficiencies, high fever and medicinal side effects, as well as premature births and prenatal smoking. Research published in Caries Research suggests areas of enamel hypoplasia are less mineralized and, therefore, more prone to decay. The enamel looks a lot like fluorosis, with spots varying from milky white to brownish or yellow. Enamel hypoplasia, however, may still have a more linear appearance.
The demineralization of tooth enamel takes place when bacterial plaque is allowed to accumulate on the teeth, according to the University of Minnesota. Usually due to inadequate brushing, it is frequently a problem for children and adults who wear braces. White areas of decalcification are permanent, and the American Academy of General Dentistry (AAGD) confirms they do lead to decay if not kept clean.
Treatments for White Spots
A number of approaches can help eliminate white spots, but the best procedure will depend on the severity of your condition and how much it costs to treat. Here are some options to discuss with your dentist:
This procedure involves gently removing a thin layer of surface enamel, thereby improving the appearance of your teeth. Dentistry Today states that microabrasion is often combined with tooth-whitening treatments for a truly high-quality aesthetic.
Bleach-based tooth whitening can help balance the color of your tooth enamel. For the safest results, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) recommends either an in-office whitening procedure or a dentist-supervised, take-home kit. Over-the-counter (OTC) bleaching products and whitening toothpastes are also available, but the result may take longer and not be as dramatic.
This is an excellent option when you have significant patches of discoloration that can't be eliminated with bleaching alone. Custom fabricated with thin layers of ceramic material, veneers are bonded to the front of your teeth. Minimal tooth structure is removed to fit a veneer (less than a millimeter), explains the AACD, and the end result is natural-looking teeth that resist future stains.
Preventing White Spots
If you're expecting a baby, talk with your dentist or obstetrician about fluoride intake and any medications that could interfere with your child's developing teeth. Are you a smoker? Now's a good time to start the process of quitting. Children under the age of six can incur these spots too, and should therefore use only pea-sized amounts of fluoride toothpaste (make sure they don't swallow). If your tap water is fluoridated, and most are, check these levels and discuss the need for fluoride supplements with your dentist. Keep in mind bottled water, formulas, drinks and many foods may contain fluoride as well.
If you or your child is wearing braces, help them brush and floss around these brackets and wires regularly to reduce the risk of white spots ruining the look of their straight teeth when they come off. For extra protection, and to remineralize these white spots, your dentist may recommend a remineralizing toothpaste like Colgate® Enamel Health™.
Don't let acute discoloration keep you from smiling. Like most oral issues, figuring out how to get rid of white spots on teeth may be easier than you thought.